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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    13

    Default Passing a School Bus - Wa

    I was recently next to a school bus on a two lane street. The yellow lights were flashing so I was driving slowly, anticipating the stop sign to extend. However, when it did, by the time I reacted and came to a stop, I was already in front on the bus, so I drove away after stopping. I got a ticket with the video/picture.

    Do I have any legal defense here, either to contest or explain circumstances? Iíd appreciate your input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,246

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    No. You're supposed to stop and not move until the bus turns off the red lights and starts up again. It's not a "stop and then go" thing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    3,283

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    I've posted the law in question below as well as the applicable portion of the law about the signals.

    The sign is required. If the sign never came out due to bus driver or mechanical error you likely do have that as a defense unless there is something I've missed here or in some other law.


    RCW 46.61.370
    Overtaking or meeting school bus, exceptions—Duties of bus driver—Penalty—Safety cameras.
    (1) The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.
    (2) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
    (3) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
    (4) The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.
    (5) The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.
    (6) Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, a person found to have committed an infraction of subsection (1) of this section shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the total penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended. Fifty percent of the money so collected shall be deposited into the school zone safety account in the custody of the state treasurer and disbursed in accordance with RCW 46.61.440(5).
    (7) An infraction of subsection (1) of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180 is not a part of the registered owner's driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120, and must be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.100, 35.20.220, 46.16A.120, and 46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for a violation of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera shall not exceed twice the monetary penalty for a violation of this section as provided under RCW 46.63.110.


    RCW 46.37.190
    Warning devices on vehicles—Other drivers yield and stop.

    (2) Every school bus and private carrier bus shall, in addition to any other equipment and distinctive markings required by this chapter, be equipped with a "stop" signal upon a background not less than fourteen by eighteen inches displaying the word "stop" in letters of distinctly contrasting colors not less than eight inches high, and shall further be equipped with signal lamps mounted as high and as widely spaced laterally as practicable, which shall be capable of displaying to the front two alternately flashing red lights located at the same level and to the rear two alternately flashing red lights located at the same level and these lights shall have sufficient intensity to be visible at five hundred feet in normal sunlight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    13

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    I wonder what the law is, regarding the time between the sign coming out and cars needing to be at a full stop. The yellow flashing lights are a warning, but are not on a timer like a traffic signal, so one cannot predict the exact moment when the stop sign will swing out.

    Iím also wondering about whether there is a distance in front of the bus at which one neednít stop any longer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,246

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    You're not going to find either of those int he statute. But frankly, since you stopped, common sense was to remain stopped while the red lights were on lest you KILL SOME CHILD. The principle behind this is not complex.
    You knew the bus was going to stop, you recklessly tried to beat it, and then after you realized your error you compounded it by further dangerous and illegal actions.

    The question is what evidence the state has of the violation (I assume the violation came with the pictures, if not you should request discovery of them). It's perhaps possible that you did not commit the violation (you had passed the bus before the lights came on). Other than that, I don't see you weaselling out of it.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2016
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    3,283

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post

    I’m also wondering about whether there is a distance in front of the bus at which one needn’t stop any longer.
    If you mean in front of the bus and going in the same direction as the bus, you don't have to stop at all.

    That would be like stopping for a stop light that turned red after you have cleared the intersection.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    13

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    Yes, that was the situation. It felt like I was trapped in some grey area, deciding whether or no to go. I went with common sense, knowing that there was no risk to anyoneís safety. Looking at the video, which doesnít even show me driving away, it seems like it would hardly have made a difference.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    Go to court with a friend.....testify that you had lent the car to him and he was driving not you. When the judge asks him if that is true, have him plead the fifth.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,652

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    Quote Quoting Guybrush
    View Post
    Go to court with a friend.....testify that you had lent the car to him and he was driving not you. When the judge asks him if that is true, have him plead the fifth.
    Not that there appear to be any mods to smack your bottom but this forum does not condone advising people to commit crimes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Passing a School Bus - Wa

    Lol thanks for the idea but Iím not going to go to court and lie!

    Anyway, I hired a traffic lawyer. Iíll post an update with my results when this is resolved.

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